When The "Why’s Of Life" Cause You To "Wonder"
by: Jeff Thompson | July 20, 2017
His name was Brandon Rogers. He was 29 years old, good-looking, had completed medical school and was working as a family practitioner, and had an incredible singing voice. His whole life was ahead of him. Yet on a Saturday night some 6 months ago, while a passenger in a car where the driver nodded off following a long shift at the hospital, his life was taken from his family and friends.
There were no drugs or alcohol involved. Brandon was scheduled to appear on America’s Got Talent some weeks ago, but between his audition tape and when it was scheduled to appear on television, Brandon was that guy killed in a car accident. The audition was shown on television a few weeks ago, and many were captivated by his incredible voice and gentle spirit.
You can read the Washington Post article about Brandon, here.
Perhaps a story like this has hit near to you in life. Maybe a neighbor, maybe a friend, maybe a family member, or maybe just a story you heard about that touched you deeply. A life is taken in the flash of an eye and it shakes your faith to the core. What do you do when the “Why’s of Life” cause you to “Wonder.” Pastor Emeritus, Jim Henry, gave some insight into this topic when he spoke at Payne Stewart’s funeral some years ago.
Try to focus on these ideas when tragedy strikes:
FIRST, A TROUBLED FAITH IS BETTER THAN NO FAITH. In the 6th chapter of the Old Testament book of Judges, the story of Gideon is told. An angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon and informed him “The Lord is with you.” Gideon’s response was not one of thanking the Lord for those kind words. Instead, his response was:
Please……if the Lord is with us…..WHY has all this happened to us?
The Lord has forsaken us.
The Lord has given us into the hand of Midian.
Gideon knew the Lord could do miracles. He had heard the stories of how God had delivered his people time after time. YET, his current situation led him to believe God had abandoned him. Gideon’s question was one many people ask in the hard moments, “Why has this happened to me,” and “Where exactly are the wonders, Lord?”
In that moment, there are two options. One can either continue to be angry with God and walk through the despair, OR a person can allow God to be God and begin the healing process. It’s okay to allow your faith to go through periods of struggling to understand things, but a troubled faith will always trump no faith at all.
SECOND, there will be times when God chooses to deliver his people THROUGH the fire rather than FROM the fire. John 16:33 says, “In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Can you imagine what a wonderful world if our faith yielded a time where there were never car wrecks, mechanical failures, cancer, broken families, or death? While it may seem wonderful to us, the reality is it would create a faith in which everyone would line up to be a part of because there was never risk of bad things happening. Only through the valleys will we be fully able to encounter the mountaintops.
If we get stuck on the “WHY,” we will never move forward. Focus on what we have left, not what we have lost. Look at the example of Jesus: He lost his cousin (John), the one who announced him as Lamb of God to a beheading by King Herod. When he heard the news, he went to a solitary place to grieve. Then he returned and went back to his ministry of healing and teaching.
And THIRD, TROUBLE RIGHTLY HANDLED HONORS GOD. Remember the parable of the two men who built houses; one on the sand, and one on the rock. When the storms came, which one stood? When tragedy comes and when the storms of trouble hit us, if we have our life anchored on the Rock, the sure foundation, God can demonstrate some valuable lessons to an observing world.
As I mentioned earlier, these three points came from the Payne Stewart Memorial Service. Payne’s death had an impact on my walk with the Lord, and was a factor in moving me from a bystander, to a full-time vocational calling to become a pastor. Many people observed those nearest to Payne as they walked through unimaginable heartbreak. At the same time, many people were moved closer to faith because of seeing how a life anchored in God can remain steady even when the storms swirl around us.
Each one of us has been impacted by an unexpected loss. It may be someone very close to you. It may be the Brandon Roger’s of the world we see at a distance and still struggle to understand such a promising life wiped out at such a young age. When those moments come, try to remember:
A TROUBLED faith is better than NO FAITH.
God may choose to deliver us THROUGH the fire rather than FROM the fire.
Trouble RIGHTLY HANDLED HONORS GOD.